Saturday, March 15, 2008

Expectations and Achievement

I often tell people that I am striving to be an underachiever. People laugh and think I am joking. I'm not. I have been an overachiever and no longer wish to be a member of that rank and file. I know my IQ is average and I have always worked to be above-average. I was a hard worker as a student and even received the Good Citizenship Award three years in a row at Brookwood Junior High School. At any professional job I've held I have worked hard to do an excellent job, not disappoint, and care too much about my job performance and what others thought of me and the job I executed.

I no longer wish to be an overachiever. People come to expect that overachieving standard from you at all times. Once it becomes known that you can perform a task, handle a responsibility, meet a challenge, and conquer a hurdle, those around you demand that performance level all the time.

I now advocate setting the bar low, not mastering a skill, refusing a challenge, and not learning the task at hand. If you don't know how to sew on a button, no one will ask you to do it. I'll give a specific example from my past. We owned a hot tub which I used occasionally. Owning a hot tub means maintaining certain ph levels (that involves measurements, readings, chemicals, and probably math.....not good tasks for me to master even if I wanted to). I knew if I learned how to maintain the hot tub I would be expected to do so. Hence, I did not learn to do so.

It is a good thing there are overachievers in the world eager, ready and willing to overachieve. Someone has to, I suppose. It is fine if overachievers can overachieve without being Type A personalities. I was a Type A as an overachiever and it wasn't always pretty. As an underachiever (Type F -- I don't know if there is a Type D but I like the idea of a Type D.... I think a Type F or G would be less than an underachiever)I am happier, less impatient, have a better sense of humor, and am nicer. It is when I slip back into my overachiever mode (unconsciously) that I get impatient, irritable, and unhappy.

I do think overachievers burn out and die before they get to enjoy life. Vacations, weekends, and retirement should be about fishing, sitting in the back yard sipping coffee in the morning, working in the workworking shop, doing crafts, taking a walk, or doing whatever makes you relax. For an overachiever I fear relaxation is always off in the distance......always a hurdle ahead to be jumped.

I'm not saying people shouldn't work hard, be productive and accomplish good deeds, produce products, create necessary items. There are responsibilities that have to be met in everyone's life. We can and should all push ourselves, but we also need to know when to step back, take a breather, and decide whether to raise that bar or lower it. Too often people don't step back and assess just how happy they are and whether they need to rearrange priorities. To any unhappy overachievers out there, its not to late to underachieve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're my heroine, Holly!